Sophie Hudson’s Newest Book, “Giddy Up, Eunice—Because Women Need Each Other”, is Her Best Yet!

Friends! Run grab Sophie’s new book for you and for your friends! I bet I’ve bought twenty plus copies recently. This one is my favorite of all of Sophie’s books. (Soph—You are the BOMB!!!)

As if she’s my best friend, I’ve never met her, but she writes like we’re sitting across the table from one another… We could soooo carry on, and on, and on at Starbucks.

Giddy up eunice

In case you’re not familiar with Sophie, she’s best known for her blog, the Boo Mama blog: www.BooMama.net She also happens to be friends with another one of my favorite authors, Melanie Shankle, blogger of www.thebigmamablog.com

Further exciting, the two of them converse from time to time and record it on Sophie’s blog, calling it “The Big Boo Cast”. Check it out! Fab music, too. They kill me. (They’re currently on Episode 63.)

Anywho, let’s chat about Sophie’s book. This one’s my favorite because she includes mini-Bible studies about three beautiful friendships in the Bible: Mary and Elizabeth, Ruth and Naomi, and Lois and Eunice.

I’m only sharing tidbits from the first of the three friendships (Mary and Elizabeth) to entice you to read about all of them! Her humor is non-stop amidst the serious Scripture page-turner points. (I predict every one of us readers will have a sinking spell over the sink.  Someone, please, for Sophie’s sake, go get that sink…)

Plus, word of warning: the last chapters on Lois and Eunice include the decline of Sophie’s Mother’s health. You will need a box of Kleenex.  (I went thru’ this with my own Mother.)  Sophie really brings you in the room with her family. Precious, dear, and courageous.

My favorite chapter title is: We May Have to Walk Uphill Together, but at Least It’s Good for Our Calves. That’s the best thing us gals can do for one another is to simply be there for one another.

Woman Friends Enjoying A Day On The Beach

My friend Jane is the quintessential hold-your-hand-friend. (Surely she’s related to Radar from M*A*S*H.) She suddenly appears, with whatever you need, in hand.

When my Daddy was about to take his last breath on this earth, in walks Jane, Starbucks in hand for both of us, to hold my hand. Had she called, I would’ve said, “No, don’t come, I’m fine.” But she knew I wasn’t.

When our friend Gwen, recently widowed, was returning from a trip out of town, Jane drove over to her condo’, groceries in hand, stocked her frig, and turned some lights on so she wouldn’t come in to a dark house. Who does that?

Detached house at night view from outside the rear courtyard.

Back to Giddy Up, Eunice: One of many pearls Sophie offers is about the need for us older gals to come alongside the younger gals. She says, “These Millenial girls need us, y’all. They need us something awful.”

She adds, “We need to keep our spiritual eyes wide open as we walk our unique, God-ordained roads because:

  • We need each other, and
  • Sometimes the folks God sends to walk with us don’t look anything like what we expect.”

Lest you think you’re not qualified or have nothing to offer, Sophie pretty much tells us to just show up. Let the Lord take the reigns and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I declare our daughters-in-love bless me more than I bless them, so the tables can be turned age-wise as well.

Sophie also points out things you and I may not have considered before. Such as Mary must’ve been desperate for company if she walked seventy miles to see Elizabeth!

Plus, this is a major pearl—think about this with your own friends: When you know you can trust someone, and are in a safe place within your relationship…look at what Sophie teaches us that makes a relationship so special:

“When the Holy Spirit in one woman recognizes and responds to the Holy Spirit in another woman, safe places become sacred spaces.”

 Oh, that needs repeating: “Safe places become sacred spaces.”

 She adds, “…when we know we’re in a sacred space, there’s freedom to share our real lives and our real circumstances.

To sincerely pray for one another.

To bless each other.

To listen with our hearts as well as our ears.”

Isn’t that the best? I experienced this first hand weekend before last on a road trip to Nashville with my friend Nancy. Nancy’s the kind of friend who will drop whatever she’s doing to tune into you and your day.

While we were trekking south to attend a Beth Moore conference, that was exciting in and of itself, but for us to be together for three hours in the car, we both decided that was just as exciting as going to the conference! Why? Because we both possess crazy calendars and rarely get this kind of opportunity.

Further funny, both of us are writing books (more to come on that little topic down the pike…) and still cannot believe such truth. We are living proof the Lord has a sense of humor.

The other gift Sophie blesses us with is rich application. She teaches us about trust that Mary and Elizabeth had for each other regardless of their age difference. (They were approximately fifty years apart!)

Then she gives us a “let’s-take-this-upon-ourselves” question: “Are our spiritual eyes wide open as we look for our people?”

Look out. Literally. Some of my best friends came from the craziest of coincidences. And we know with God, there are no such things as coincidences, they’re God-incidences. May we all be in tune for whomever our Sweet Lord wants us to meet. 

This is where our ships, yes plural, shall come in:

Relationship.

Friendship.

Fellowship.

Discipleship.

Large yacht harbor in purple sunset light, luxury summer cruise,

This is my constant sermonette to our Bible study gals. When we study God’s Word, all, (Yes, ALL) of those “ships” will come in.  It’s an amazingly beautiful gift from God.

Sophie gives proof of this to us in one of my all-time favorite verses:

Hebrews

Let’s set sail and see where we land. While you’re packin’, be sure to pack Sophie’s book in your bag.

‘Til next time!

 

P.S. FYI, here are Sophie’s other books:

Home is Where My People Are: The Roads That Lead Us to Where We Belong

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A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet: Southern Stories of Faith, family and Fifteen Pounds of Bacon

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Guest Author, Robert J. Morgan, tells us about his new book: The Strength You Need—The Twelve Great Strength Passages of the Bible (Releasing August 16th!)

Friends! We are so blessed this week to get to hear from author and preacher Rob Morgan about his new book, The Strength You Need. I can’t wait to read it as every book Rob writes becomes my favorite.

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Rob is the Teaching Pastor at Donelson Fellowship Church in Nashville, Tennessee. (www.donelson.org ) He’s been preaching, shepherding and serving there for thirty-five years. John and I go hear him preach whenever we’re in Nashville. His church is only five minutes from Opryland.

Rob has been most gracious to drive in from Nashville to speak at two book clubs I’ve had the pleasure of attending in Louisville. He came to Southeast Christian several years ago when we read his book One Hundred Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart. Last fall he came to Middletown United Methodist Church when we discussed The Red Sea Rules: 10 God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times.

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Rob and his lovely wife, Katrina, worked together on this newest book, The Strength You Need–The Twelve Great Strength Passages of the Bible. Katrina has been valiantly fighting multiple sclerosis for years. He told me that even tho’ she’s in a weakened state, she contributed a paragraph at the end of each chapter–all the more reason to want to read this book! (Please keep Katrina in your prayers.)

Rob and Katrina are about to celebrate their fortieth wedding anniversary with their family at the beach the end of this month. They’re blessed with three daughters and fourteen grandchildren. (You don’t want to miss their experiences in raising sheep when the girls were young in The Lord is My Shepherd—Exploring Psalm 23.)

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Rob recently sent me an excerpt from his newest book.  Without further ado, let’s enjoy some wonderful words from our author while praying we can wait patiently for the August 16th release date of The Strength You Need


“From Strength to Strength”

By Robert J. Morgan

(Adapted from the conclusion of his book, The Strength You Need)

Last night I stood on the front porch and watched the sun descend like a burning plate behind the horizon. This morning while brushing my teeth, I saw the same sun arise on the opposite side, ascending over the tree line like a blazing disk. I thought of the old song, “Awake, my soul, and with the sun thy daily stage of duty run.”

Who knows how many days are left us in this world? How long until the Lord returns? Not long, I think. We have work to do and a cause to advance, and we need all the strength we can muster.

Psalm 84 tells the story of a pilgrim like us, a traveler preparing for his annual trek to Jerusalem for one of the great Jewish festivals. For him, the greatest thing was visiting the Jewish Temple, standing in its courtyards, listening to its choirs, and sensing the presence of the Lord God. “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord,” he said in verse 2. But the trip was rigorous, dangerous, and demanding. Where would he find strength for the journey, especially through the hot valley of Baka?

He exclaimed in verses 5-7:

Psalm 84

We can learn from this Psalm. Our lives are a pilgrimage to the city whose architect and builder is God. We’re travelers tackling rugged terrain. As we press on, strengthened by the Lord, we leave blessings behind us. We turn waterless valleys into irrigated landscapes. We go from strength to strength, from day to day, from faith to faith, and from glory to glory. Along the way, the Lord will provide the strength we need.

Here are some power lines stretching from heaven right into your heart. These are some of the great strength passages of the Bible. My wife, Katrina, and I have searched these out and have written about them in my book The Strength You Need. Read them, and claim one of them for your pilgrimage today.

  • Your strength will equal your days – Deuteronomy 33:25.
  • The eyes of the Lord range to and fro throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him – 2 Chronicles 16:9.
  • The joy of the Lord is your strength – Nehemiah 8:10.
  • The Lord is our refuge and strength – Psalm 46:1
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – Philippians 4:13.
  • Out of His glorious riches He will strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being – Ephesians 3:16.

 

 

THANK YOU, ROB!!!  Blessings to you, your family, your church and please keep writing!

August 16th won’t come soon enough! May we stop and take hold of those “power lines” to strengthen us.

‘Til next time!

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Gift Book, Married for Life—Inspirations from Those Married Fifty Years or More, Inspires All Ages…(Plus Petite Travelogue from Gulf Shores, Alabama)

Friends! Run, don’t walk, to your nearest Hallmark store and grab several copies of a nifty little gift book. (www.hallmark.com ) Married for Life—Inspirations from those Married Fifty Years or More by Russ L. Potter, II and Bill Morelan is a fantastic, enlightening discovery.

My friend Mary gave a copy of this book to our newest daughter-in-love, Diana, at a dinner in her honor before she and John Jr. got married. Fascinated by the title, I peeked inside…

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Every two pages include quotes, devotional-style, from a different couple who have been married fifty years or more. A snippet of how they met comes with their two cents’ worth on what’s kept them married all these years. The advice concludes with a fitting Scripture.

I was so blown away by this power-packed book, I marched out and bought several copies. One for Hubster and me since we’ve just celebrated our thirty-second anniversary, one for each of our married kids, and one for several different couples who recently got engaged. It’s the perfect gift!

One favorite section is entitled: “Never get too old to hold hands.” This comes from Arnold and Hazel Morelan, married on February 17, 1920 in Iola, Kansas.

Old Couple Holding Hands

They say, “Holding hands is one of the most intimate expressions of love between two human beings. Don’t ever let this beautiful act slip away from you…It requires no words; in fact, no words can convey such a profound message.”

They conclude: “Hold your spouse’s hand throughout your life together; don’t ever let it go until the day when you’ve fulfilled every marriage vow and finally release it from your grasp, placing it lovingly, trustingly into the hand of God.” Tear jerker!

Psalm 73:23-24 ties this together:

Psalm 73 23 24

The Life Application Bible reminds us, “From birth to death, God has us continually in His grip. But far more, we have hope in the resurrection. Though our courage and strength may fail, we know that one day we will be raised to life to serve Him forever. He is our security, and we must cling to Him.”

Our family of eight was recently gathered around a table, eating breakfast in Orange Beach, Alabama, right down the beach from Gulf Shores. We’d trekked there for a week of vacation. (Just to pull that off is like herding cats, so we were beyond grateful it came to fruition.)

LT read us this very quote from this devotional. Now that we all have a copy, my prayer is we’ll continue to enjoy the book post-vacation.

God blessed us with picture perfect weather, a beautiful beach to look at, walk on, sit on, play in, and the most fun lazy river pool you’ve ever seen. It was the solution to beating the heat.

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I must share about a very challenging team-building activity we tried: Breakout Games— “A Life-Sized Game of Twists and Turns”. (Checkout www.breakoutgames.com ) See if your town has one!

Grab some friends or family and go try it!  It’s a total blast. I double dog dare ya to watch the “launch video briefing” from the website.  It’ll kick your heartbeat up a notch or two or twenty…

Breakout Games currently offers the following options:

Museum Heist,
The Kidnapping,
Island Escape,
Hostage, and
Operation: Casino.

We chose the Operation: Casino. Our kids turned out to be super smart sleuths, solving puzzle, after clue, after lock combination. Hubster and I pretty much watched them at work, all the while being one hundred percent wide-eyed.

Participants only get an hour to solve the mystery. You’re also blessed with a “Game Keeper” who watches your every move from another room and occasionally gives you a hint or two. Jessica was our Game Keeper. She was the bomb, bless her patient soul.

The instant the door closed, a very large clock started the sixty minute countdown…oh my… I had my doubts, but with the kids’ persistence, I’m happy to report we were able to break out with less than three minutes to spare.

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Lest any of you are claustrophobic, you’re free to leave the room at any time, especially to visit the loo. Just sayin’…You can imagine our dinner conversation after our big breakout!

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We all had “jobs” during our week of vacation, just to throw some more ideas your way…

Each of our newlywed couples had a night where they “got” to cook dinner. We called it a “Cook Off”. (Translation: Mom and Dad have a night off.) Each couple grilled.

We had tilapia tacos one night, steaks-n-potatoes another, and chicken with mozzarella, tomatoes and avocado another, pardon me. We never declared a winner as each meal was so delicious, we couldn’t have possibly chosen just one.

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My equally tough assignment (!!!) was to choose a restaurant to dine in on the nights when the kids weren’t cooking.

Any of y’all heading to Gulf Shores may like to know we LOVED The Gulf (www.thegulf.com). They have a fantastic grouper sandwich as well as a grouper salad in a very festive atmosphere.  We ate at a picnic table right next to the beach.

Since Breakout Games is located at The Wharf (www.alwharf.com), we were able to get a table by the marina at The Villaggio Grille. (www.villaggiogrille.com) The Wharf’s development has only been open a few months, so they’re still trying to fine tune things. Good potential.

Craving a good lasagna as Hubster does nearly nightly, we tried Cafe Grazie (www.cafe-grazie.com) another night. The lasagna was good, but not as pretty as the picture.

I had the grouper with pasta and capers which was delicious. Others of us tried a pizza and different shrimp and pasta dishes. Crab cakes were a big hit. After dinner, we walked out onto the docks and snapped some fun photos:

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Group picture of all eight of us above from left to right are: Woody and LT, John Jr. and Diana, Gordy and Lauren and Hubster and Yours Truly.  The girls’ photo starts with Diana, then Lauren, me, and LT.  Just warmed our hearts to have our kiddos together.

Sadly our last night rolled around way too quickly. We ventured over to Shipps Harbour Grill (www.shippsrestaurant.com) . Big bonus: you could make a reservation.

We tried nearly everything on the menu: oysters on the half shell (not 100% participation there….); smoked tuna dip (delish, but we all ate too many crackers!), fried shrimp and fish, coconut grouper, island mahi mahi, and a crab and brie quesadilla. Our favorite side dish of the night was the smoked gouda mashed potatoes (oh my—to die for!). Our round table of eight led to some massive sharing. This was a favorite.

Finally, let’s look at one more pearl of a quote from Married for Life. At dinner one night, we loved this, given we were at the beach: “Enjoy the simple things—like looking at sunsets.”

Retirement Vacation Concept, Happy Mature Retired Couple Enjoyin

This comes from Auburn and Louise Roland, married December 14, 1935 in Leicester, North Carolina. They say, “When you and your spouse feel the need to get back to basics, to look beyond the clutter and clamor of this bewildering, complicated world and see what really matters, just go outside together for a moment and gaze upward. No matter what time of day it is, you will witness God’s splendor—…”

“…And when a butterfly floats out of the sky and alights nearby, examine it closely and consider, Who but God could have made such a lovely, ‘simple’ thing?”

Large Tree Nymphs butterfly and flowers

As God would orchestrate, Lauren had just been telling us about a neat connection she has with butterflies. Our gracious God literally sent one her way at the perfect time when we’d been in Naples together a few years ago. (Later this month I’ll be sharing about a new website Lauren’s Mother is launching and you’ll be able to read her whole story. It’s the BEST!)

We also realized Gordy’s had a love for butterflies since he was a small child. We have a great picture of him with three butterflies sitting on one hand one summer day. It “just so happened” it was Lauren who read this particular devotion to all of us. Is God the best, or what?

Let’s close with the Scripture this section offers:

Psalm 113:3 says:

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We praise you, Lord.

Amen.

‘Til next time!

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When You’re Suddenly Awakened at 3:40 in the Morning…(The Kneeling Christian by An Unknown Christian, Helps us ALL with prayer.)

Please allow this quote to sink in for  a minute:  “We are never so high as when we are on our knees.”(From The Kneeling Christian)

 

Given the recent occurrences around us in the States and in France, I believe prayer is our only answer.  Two summers ago I was reading three different books (I know, I can’t help myself).  In all three of them, The Kneeling Christian was mentioned.  Taking that as a divine cue, I marched out and bought a copy.

 

I feel it’s important enough to reprise the post I wrote about the book. (This was in August of 2014, before our younger  little lovebirds were married, just in case you get confused. They’re now going on their second anniversaries.)

 

I pray you’re encouraged by the below post to get down on your knees, not only to pray for your family and those closeby, but for all of the victims, their families, and friends of the latest tragedies.

 

Maranatha.

Drifting off to sleep with a smile, four of our six birds were back in the nest. (Gordy, Woody, Lauren and LT were all staying with us.) This Mamma Bird rejoices when the birds return home.

Suddenly, at 3:40 in the morning, our house alarm started blaring….

The Panel Of The Security Alarm System

John said, “See where it was tripped!!!”

Blind as a bat (Oh, just wait ‘til you see where this goes…), I grabbed my glasses and raced to the alarm panel. “It says, ‘office.’ Maybe that’s the office off of Woody’s room and he and Gordy have set it off?” I suggested.

“Nope,” John said, “It’s the downstairs office.”

By this time, I was nearly on John’s heels as were Gordy and Woody. The girls were still in bed. Naturally, Gracie, the best watchdog ever (!!!), was right on my heels, dashing and simultaneously barking down the stairs.

The three of us bravely stood out in the hallway while Hubster marched into the office. No windows broken, nothing seemed amiss…

“Swoosh!” Something brushed by John’s ear.

“IT’S A BAT!!!!” John yelled.

Bat

“How ‘bout the paddle tennis rackets on the porch?” I asked.

“No! We need longer necks….Where are our regular tennis rackets?” (The man thinks on his feet like no other.)

Tennis Racket

“Hmmm, could be a problem as we’ve not played tennis since we moved in this house four years ago.” I sputtered…

By this time, the bat had moved into the family room. This plucky Mom hightailed it back upstairs. Lauren had come out of her room and I screamed, “Get back in your room! There’s a bat on the loose!” to which she and LT screamed in unison and slammed the door. We are some fine kind of fearless women.

Frightened Woman In Bed

Meanwhile, downstairs, we could hear screams coming from the boys. Dying to say, “Y’all sound like a bunch of girls…” I refrained and valiantly slammed our door shut.

Seems the bat had now entered the kitchen and perched up on one of the cabinets. Woody threw something up at it. It swooped down with all three men flailing their racquets. Akin to The Three Stooges, not one macho man could connect with the beleaguered bat.

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Finally, the bat chased Gordy down the hallway. More high-pitched screams followed with a resounding “YES!” (Funeral services were not held for The Great Winged Intruder.)

Shall we all sing, “Ding dong the bat is dead!” after our snake story? (Please click on Ding Dong the Snake is Dead—Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist for more info…) And I beg forgiveness for any of you animal lovers out there…

So what does a bat have to do with prayer, you may be asking? Well, not a whole lot, obviously…but the pearl to glean is from having family closeby. Or framed photos of your family if they live far away. This reminds us to pray fervently and feverishly for them.

Please allow me to share a couple of highlights from a book that’s been mentioned in the last three books I’ve read (Whenever that happens, I take that to be a divine suggestion): The Kneeling Christian, by Unknown Christian, originally from 1924, offers powerful pearls on prayer. (Research revealed author is Albert Ernest Richardson. He was a British Anglican clergyman and missionary.)

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The preface grabs you from its’ first page: “It’s not too much to say that all real growth in the spiritual life—

All victory over temptation,

All confidence and peace in the presence of difficulties and dangers,

All repose of spirit in times of great disappointment or loss,

All habitual communion with God

Depend upon the practice of secret prayer.”

He continues, “Our yearning desire is to stir up Christians to ‘take hold of’ God as never before.”

Watch this: “We are never so high as when we are on our knees.”

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The author doesn’t pretty things up any, either. Reminding us of the devil’s schemes, he pleads, “Fellow Christians, let us awake! The devil’s blinding our eyes…Do we realize there’s nothing the devil dreads so much as prayer?

Satan laughs at our toiling, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.” (What an awesome reminder and motivation for us all to pray, pray, pray.)

Some of you may argue, “But I don’t know what to pray for?”

Don’t forget what Paul tells us in Romans 8:26-27: “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, … and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (ESV)

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The author succinctly answers questions about what prayer is,

how God answers prayer,

        if He always answers, and

                 obstacles we must be aware of.

In a powerful Bible study called Praying for Your Prodigal: A Journey Through Luke 15, by Kristen Sauder, Kristen also gives us a beautiful list of what prayer is:

“Prayer is:

           A Gift.

                 A shelter in times of storms.

                       A classroom filled with wise instruction.

                             A banquet hall for our inner nourishment.

                                    A place of comfort.

                                            A place of compassion.

                                                   A place of forgiveness.

                                                            A place of renewed strength.

Prayer changes us internally and externally.” Kristen asks, “Does conversation with the Savior affect your countenance?” Ouch….and yet a blessed challenge.

She concludes:

“Prayer …

     Delivers help and hope.

           Enables us to speak directly to the Father.”

Between Kristen’s excellent information on prayer and the author’s pearls in the Kneeling Christian, we must arise and awaken to our surroundings and to people for whom we can pray.

When family is closeby, or even if they’re far away, let them serve as visual reminders to kneel in prayer and storm Heaven’s gates for your loved ones. (Hopefully snakes and bats don’t fit into that equation.) We must also continue to lift up those affected by the recent tragedies.

Please remember:

It is never too late.

We must never give up.

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The Kneeling Christian concludes: “To pray with all your heart and strength—that is the last, the greatest achievement of the Christian’s warfare on earth.”

And may I conclude with a favorite Scripture: I Thessalonians 5:17 can be quickly memorized and put to daily use: “Pray continually.”

Lord, please keep prayer in the forefront of our minds.  Amen and Amen.

‘Til next time!

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When You Renew Your Wedding Vows, You May Just Learn a Thing or Two…

It’s not everyday you get a stellar idea.

It’s not everyday you share this idea with your preacher and he excitedly proclaims, “Let’s run with it!”

This was the brainchild of my friend Mary. She and her husband, Michael, were about to celebrate their tenth anniversary. They desired to renew their vows. Mary decided if they wanted to, perhaps other couples would as well.

She approached Jady Koch, minister of St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church (www.stfrancisinthefields.org ) with the idea. Between the two of them, an entire conference, complete with speakers, vow renewal service, dinner, and dancing was born. Oh, and did I mention there was cake???

Wedding Cake

(Huge thanks go to Hope Thompson, Cake Creator Extraordinaire, who somehow survived teaching our boys invaluable lessons in Home Ec at Christian Academy of Louisville. You’re our hero, Hope!)

The First Annual Love and Marriage Project (L.A.M.P.) went off without a hitch on June 25th. John and I attended, along with about sixty others—one couple married less than a year, two couples married fifty-plus years! (We will celebrate our thirty-second anniversary on Bastille Day, July 14th, Lord willing.)

The conference portion was held from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. We were blessed with two fabulous speakers: Marta and Rob McKinnon. (www.mckinnoncompany.com ) Marta is a marriage and family counselor, while Rob coaches CEO’s and their executive teams to be the best version of themselves possible. They’ve just celebrated their thirtieth anniversary.

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marta and rob

The sixteen-page handout we received is invaluable.(You can download it via St. Francis’ website. You can also listen to their three different talks by going to the website, clicking on “media”, then “sermons/classes”, then scroll down to 6/25/16.  Part 1 is Develop Deep Friendship, Part 2 is Manage Conflict and Part 3 is Grow with God. These are all three extremely beneficial.)

Marta and Rob gifted us with not only their experiences of their own marriage (They were quite candid!), but also with several excellent resources:

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All of the principles Marta and Rob taught us are Biblically based. We began with Scripture and then worked thru’ different practices and tools. I loved how they always referred to the Bible. Bravo.

Sprinkled throughout the handout are excellent quotes from various authors. My two favorites are:

#1 – “It’s my job to love and respect Billy. It’s God’s job to make him good.” Ruth Bell Graham

Ruth’s quote was in the section on remembering. We were asked to look back over the years of our marriages and to choose happy memories to relive. This came from the principle, “I accept you the way you are.”

Scripture for this is: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7

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Any of you out there thinking you can change your spouse, think again. A few elbows were dug into some ribs on this teensy-weensy topic!!! The remembering practice helps you grow your fondness and appreciation for each other, giving your marriage a positive boost.

Likewise, when we worship the Lord, we’re remembering His goodness and mercy toward us. God’s faithfulness will keep us in awe every single time. What a sweet parallel.

Enter Tim Keller for my 2nd favorite quote: “The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” Allow that to soak in for a minute…and repeat… Powerful.

Marta and Rob credit the Lord with helping them thru’ their hard times. They reminded us of the triangle illustration which shows the husband and wife growing closer, the closer they grow their relationship to God.

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When asked, “What makes a Christian marriage distinct?” Marta and Rob agreed the Lord must be the center point of your marriage. “If He’s not at the center of your marriage, “ they warned, “…couples tend to look elsewhere for other people or other things to fill that void. That’s where real trouble can develop.”

One more of many pearls we gleaned is a petite three-letter word: “Bid…” This comes from the principle “I believe you are valuable.”

The Scripture for this is: “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

John 15 13

The practice is “Turning Toward One Another”.

“Bid” is defined as “the fundamental unit of emotional communication.” Rob and Marta said, “Every bid needs (and gets) a response. Good or bad…

For example, “Turning Toward” is when you answer your spouse whether it’s a simple “uh-huh” or a long response.

Turning Away” occurs when you’re pre-occupied, or ignoring, even interrupting your spouse. Novel idea:   Lifteth thou faceth uppeth from the cell phoneth.

Turning Against” is when you’re critical or demeaning. Obviously, this is not desirable!

Note: No response is still a response! To which you can utter, “Bid!” which should cue the silent one to wake up and smell the coffee.

I confess John said, “Bid” not once, not twice, but three times Saturday afternoon after the conference. Busted! A great tool, nonetheless…

Following the conference, we had free time in the afternoon until 4:30. Right at 4:30, John and I, along with all attendees, returned to St. Francis for a lovely church service complete with worship, sermon by Jady, communion, the reading of Scripture, and, drum roll: the renewing of our vows!

Even tho’ Jady was preaching from the pulpit, his lovely wife, Liza, joined him as he led all of us thru’ our vows.  Several of us shed a few tears it was so beautiful and emotional. We closed by singing Holy, Holy, Holy.

Following the church service, we were blessed with a delicious dinner and dancing at Louisville Country Club.  One couple started the dancing before our meal was served! They’ve been married fifty-two years. They did the twist all the way down to the floor (I kept saying, “Oh my knees!”) They defined the bee’s knees.

This couple, David and Bobbie Welsh, were the first on the dance floor and could dance circles around us

This couple, David and Bobbie Welsh, were the first on the dance floor and could dance circles around us.

Following dinner, our melt-in-your-mouth lemon-flavored wedding cake was served for dessert. We thoroughly enjoyed the entire day and evening. It simply couldn’t have been any better.

Here are some of our fun-n-mighty-fine tablemates:

Line Dance

Pictured here is Mary Young and some others learning a line dance from our DJ

Michael and Mary Young

Michael and Mary Young

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Frank and Aletia Thompson

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Thanks again to Michael and Mary Young, Jady and Liza Koch, Marta and Rob McKinnon, the folks at St. Francis, and the great staff at Louisville Country Club. As many before us, including C.S. Lewis have said, “And a good time was had by all.”

Begin your research NOW on how you, too, can renew your vows. Don’t wait for a milestone, just do it!

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

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Step Back into a Delightful Time With Bill Higgs’s Debut Novel, Eden Hill

Friends!  Exciting news! Bill Higgs’s debut novel, Eden Hill, is hitting bookshelves near you July 1st!

Eden HillI’ve just finished it.  I found myself helplessly captivated, not wanting it to end.  I felt as if the characters were going to walk in the room at any minute and join me for coffee.

The plot’s twists and turns completely blind-sided me.  I kept telling Hubster, “Oh my!  You will not believe this!”  (I wouldn’t reveal them, however, because I know he’s going to enjoy reading it himself.)

Bill’s been working on this novel for years. What a tremendous thrill to see it come to fruition, fresh off the Tyndale press.

The novel reminds me of an orchestra conductor directing different instruments to come in at certain points:  First strings, then horns, then woodwinds, then percussion, all the while building to a gigantic crescendo, for the grande finale.  This is what Bill has done with his characters: their transformational story develops until the very last word.

Symphony Orchestra

While the story’s set in Kentucky in the early 60’s, Bill includes everyday problems you and I encounter in today’s crazy culture.

See if any of these happen in your household:

1 – Dealing with competition while maintaining your faith

Romans 12:15 haunts the pages:

Can you rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn?  This is where lessons in grace are woven beautifully throughout.

2 – Struggling with keeping your integrity

We know what’s right, but are we willing to follow thru’?

Romans 7:15 is sprinkled across the pages as well:

Romans 7-15

This gets the best of some of Bill’s characters just as it does you and me.

3 – Juggling change versus staying the same

Must we move beyond our comfort zone? This really hit home for me…Watch as this takes place in Eden Hill where time was standing  still until…

4 -Racial issues

This is gut wrenching, but so key to this era. Witness how the glorious Gospel unfolds.  (This is one of my favorite parts.)

5 -Financial stress/secrets

Can you pretend everything’s okay when your life’s about to crumble?  See how some of the characters have an inkling to one couples’ woes and offer food at the perfect time. More grace.

business, people, finances, crisis and money saving concept - bu

6 – Marital strife

Could a silly ole’ magazine article possibly wreak havoc in a marriage?  Supports one of my theories:  Satan is slick as slick can be, aiming a target straight for your marriage, or any other thing you hold dear.  Virgil and Mavine don’t know how good of a marriage they have until they have to find out for themselves.

Beautiful Flowers And Wedding Bell

7 -Challenging church member

Every single preacher (Let me say that again:  Every. Single. Preacher.) should be gifted with Eden Hill because I’m sure there’s one challenging soul (at least) in every congregation.  Your preacher will relate on every level with Reverend Caudill.

The First Baptist Evangelical Church is blessed (or cursed!) with a cranky congregant who calls Reverend Caudill every Monday morning complaining about his most recent sermon…

How could redemption be a remote possibility?  Here’s where Ephesians 3:20 comes in and you will literally fall out of your chair upon experiencing this in the story:

Ephesians 3 20

8 -Disciplining children

You don’t want to miss this creative idea—Mavine’s Mothering kills me.  Wish I’d thought of it!

Another plus of the book:  Bill’s dry wit throughout keeps you chuckling.   This was a fun surprise for me.

Even better, while this is considered Christian fiction, I believe a seeker or non-believer would be drawn to the Lord from this novel.  Bill sprinkles Biblical truth, and the Gospel within the story, sure to grab the reader’s attention.   (Pray about who  you should give it to!)

Additionally, I must reveal I’m blessed to call Bill and Liz Higgs dear friends. Liz will tell you right out of the gate she did not read Bill’s book until it was completed.  She wanted it to be all his.  And while we’re friends, I promise I’m being completely honest and candid about this review.

Before we see some endorsements, please enjoy a couple of my many favorite quotes from the book:

People aren’t meant to be fixed; people are meant to be loved.”

We’re all neighbors.  Sometimes we’re even kin.  We just need to learn to act like it.

I’m not the only one who loves this book… Look at what well-known author, Jerry Jenkins says in his endorsement  of Eden Hill:

“I just flat loved this!  You’ll forget by page two that Eden Hill is Bill Higgs’s debut novel.  This is a curl up and settle in delight that pitch perfectly evokes 1960s Americana.  Poignant, funny, moving, and touching without detouring into sentimentality, it’s like an evangelical Lake Wobegon.  Higgs is generous with every scene, lingering long enough to deftly decorate every detail.”

Jerry B. Jenkins, author of the Left Behind series.

Eden Hill also received a coveted starred review in  Library Journal, and has been designated DEBUT OF THE MONTH!  After the review, Library Journal says their verdict is:  “Higgs’ first novel will resonate with baby boomers everywhere as his characters struggle to cope with the revolutions of the tumultuous 1960s while holding on to the reassurances of the past.  Recommended for fans of domestic fiction.”

Say no more, right?  Now, make a mad dash to the bookstore so you too can enjoy Eden Hill.

Way to go, Bill!

I pray everyone has a super safe and fun Fourth of July.

‘Til next time!

 

 

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When Your Soul is Crazy-Cluttered…(With Help from John Ortberg)

“You’re not listening to me.”

“Yes, I am.”

“No,… you’re not. Your mind’s going in a million directions.”

“Is not.”

“Is too!”

Background concept wordcloud illustration of mental clutter

Such was a recent stand-off between Hubster and me. Guess who was saying what?

For the past two weeks, I’ve been sharing about our trip to South Carolina. Confession: the weeks prior to our departure were wild. (You may recall the flood in our kitchen the week of John Jr. and Diana’s wedding for starters…) To say our escape was much-needed is the understatement of the month.

As God would orchestrate, I was reading Soul Keeping—Caring for the Most Important Part of You by John Ortberg. I was dumbstruck to discover I was in no way, shape, or form caring for my soul. DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!

9780310275961r1

Clearly the Lord was trying to get my attention. I can only imagine His frustration at my little auto-pilot self. Gracious.

Praises be sung for the gift of John Ortberg’s book. His close relationship to Dallas Willard blesses us readers with Dallas’ insight too. He builds around this inspirational quote from Dallas:

“Our soul is like a stream of water, which gives strength, direction, and harmony to every other area of our life. When that stream is as it should be, we are constantly refreshed and exuberant in all we do, because our soul itself is then profusely rooted in the vastness of God and His kingdom, including nature; and all else within us is enlivened and directed by that stream. Therefore we are in harmony with God, reality, and the rest of human nature and nature at large.”

Young Children Exploring Nature On Wooded Path

Let’s look at the benefits a healthy soul has:

Strength,

Direction,

Harmony,

Constantly refreshed,

Exuberant (Anybody felt exuberant lately?) and

In harmony with God

Note this happens when we’re profusely rooted in the vastness of God and His Kingdom.

Here’s where we’d best plant our faces in God’s Word every day. Savoring scripture prevents our souls from crazy clutter.

But… (You knew that was coming!), if we allow ourselves to spin multiple plates, our soul will shrivel, becoming choked from clutter, blocking ways for God’s light, hope, and peace to shine thru’ us.

BEIJING, CHINA - JUNE 4: Balancing the spinning plates performed

Good news! John Ortberg serves up seventeen sensational chapters, each one dealing with different ways to nurture our souls, protecting them from our culture’s chaos.

Pictured below with our author, John Ortberg, are two of my very dear friends, Nancy Tinnell on the left and Kelly McDonald on the right.  In 2013, these gals attended the Leadership Institute at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS where John was a presenter.  Nancy is the Women’s Ministry Director and Associate Pastor of Discipleship & Spiritual Formation at Middletown United Methodist Church.   Kelly works at the Kentucky Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and is Engineer Extraordinaire of this blog.

nancy and kelly with ortberg

You can find out more about John on his website, www.johnortberg.com, or from the church where he’s the  pastor, at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church at www.menlo.church

This week we’ll address three temptations to watch for that can cripple our soul:

#1 – HURRY:

Dallas Willard once said,

“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.

Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day.”

As a new Mom, one thing I vowed I’d never utter to our boys was, “Hurry up!” That lasted until our firstborn was being a slowpoke for preschool, at the ripe age of two. Sigh…

#2 – CLUTTER

This section stopped me cold. Look at the below:

“The CLUTTERED SOUL becomes choked by worries, deceitfulness of wealth, and desire for other things.

When you’re so busy, your soul will shrivel…

The busy soul gets attached to the wrong things, because the soul is sticky.

The VELCRO of the soul is what Jesus calls ‘desire’. It could be desire for money, or it could simply be desire for ‘other things’.

We mistake our clutter for life.”

Oh, friends, if that’s not enough, there are more slap-you-silly sections : The Hardened Soul and the Shallow Soul. Advice? Read ‘em cuz we all need ‘em.

Bottom line: We must quit buying into our culture which applauds busyness. Our culture equates success with production, eighty-plus-hour workweeks, running circles around ourselves, burning the midnight oil for those it-seemed-like-a-good-idea at the time to-do’s.

Scarier…, John adds, “A person preoccupied with externals–success, reputation, ceaseless activity, lifestyle, office gossip—may be dead internally AND NOT EVEN RECOGNIZE IT.” Any alarms going off?

#3 – DISHONESTY:

Another soul disintegrator is dishonesty. Thankfully John’s humor in this section comes as a blessed relief:

Dan Ariely, author of The Honest Truth about Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves, admits he’s “astounded by how widespread people’s tendency is to cheat, be self-centered, lie, and be deceitful.”

Honest Truth About Dishonesty

If you’re a grandmother of a college student, listen up:

Research shows “grandmothers are ten times more likely to die before a midterm and nineteen times more likely to die before a final exam.”

“Students who are failing are fifty times more likely to lose Grandma than nonfailing students…..the greatest predictor of mortality among senior citizens in our day ends up being their grandchildren’s GPAs.” (Please join me in laughing out loud. Are you following?)

young pretty female college student sitting in a classroom full

During Woody’s freshman year at the University of Kentucky, we experienced this scenario. First, he made the grave error of playing intramural football. Early into the season, he broke his collarbone. Badly. Required surgery in Louisville, and lots of time off from school. I prayed he’d pass his first semester.

Right on the heels of his return from surgery, my Mother died. That meant another trip to Louisville and two more absences. One of Woody’s professors found that hard to believe. I had to email her and tell her where to read the obituary in the Lexington Herald Leader.

Needless to say when I read about this research in Ariely’s book, I cracked up. However, cynicism had already slithered into my brain.

Case in point: Our recent bathroom remodeling project underwent multiple, bang-your-head-against-the-wall-delays. Last Monday our plumber couldn’t come because his grandmother died. Immediately I said to myself, “Oh sure, his grandmother died.” I know! Pitiful. Forgive me, Lord.

Good news: Our Good and Gracious God has knitted our souls to seek Him. When we’re sin sick, our souls still crave and need the right relationship with our Savior.  More grace.

Let’s return to God’s Word and claim what the psalmist says in Psalm 84:2

Psalm 84 2

Let’s hear from Isaiah in Isaiah 26:9 –

Isaiah 26 9

Webster tells us, “To yearn is to have an intense longing, or craving, or desire, or appetite, or hunger.” May we truly yearn for the Lord.

Bottom Line:

When facing a decision, ask yourself:

**“Will this situation block my soul’s connection to God?”**

I believe the Holy Spirit will give us the answer.

Cling to this:

Psalm 19 7

And hold fast to:

hebrews 6 19a

May we prioritize care for our soul.

‘Til next time!

P.S. Another excellent book on soul care is a new release by Lucinda Seacrest McDowell (Cindy) called Refresh! A Spa for Your Soul. Our Tuesday Bible study group recently studied thru’ it with “Spa” (Spiritual Personal Assessment) as our theme.

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The homework is the best: Cindy recommends all kinds of things to pamper yourself. It was just what the doctor ordered for our spring time study and could be perfect for you this summer or fall.

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